Should You Get Travel Insurance? 10 Things To Know


Nobody wants to imagine bad things happening to them when they travel and, thankfully, such worries are typically unfounded. The majority of travelers enjoy their adventures without an accident, mishap, or even a delay. But occasionally bad weather or bad luck can strike, and these are the very circumstances that make travel insurance such a popular option.

I’ve been lucky — very lucky! — that I’ve never needed to make a big insurance claim myself. But a decade of traveling around the world and participating in everything from snorkeling to hot air ballooning to food tours (hey, they can be intense in their own way!) has sharpened my research skills. I wouldn’t think of leaving town without travel insurance, and neither should you. But before you invest in a policy (or skip one altogether), here’s what you should know before you go.

10. Travel Insurance Is A Broad Term

“Travel insurance” is a term that can mean many different things — and not all of them apply to you. It can refer to a policy that covers medical costs when you’re traveling. Or it can apply to a policy that provides compensation when your flight is delayed or your trip is interrupted. It might even include emergency evacuations or reimbursements when you have to buy extra underwear. It could cover all of the above.

The point? You need to be clear about what you want and need and research travel insurance policies accordingly.

9. The Cost Of Emergency Evacuation Is Catastrophic

Maybe you’re a free spirit and researching travel insurance policies is the last thing you want to do. Or perhaps you’re traveling to a destination where even serious medical care is relatively affordable. Perhaps you’ve done your homework and know that the risk of contracting dengue fever or breaking an arm is statistically very low wherever you’re headed — whatever you’re doing.

But there’s one thing for which there’s no workaround: Medical evacuation is catastrophically expensive. I’m talking about the kind of expensive that wipes out your entire life savings and forces you to sell your home. I’ve never been so glad to have it as I was one early morning in 2010 when I woke up to air raid sirens in Honolulu. A catastrophic earthquake the previous evening in Chile meant that Oahu was on a tsunami watch. Thankfully, the resulting wave was very minor, but it caused a major scare. If you get just one kind of travel insurance coverage, make it this. It’s affordable and easy. Don’t leave home without it.

8. Alcohol Is Not Your Friend

Many travel insurance policies have exclusions when it comes to alcohol-related mishaps. At first glance, this sounds obvious. If you’re drinking and driving (and thus breaking the law), you can’t expect your travel insurance medical policy to cover your bills.

But alcohol exclusions may go beyond that. Some insurance companies will deny coverage for any mishaps that occur while you’ve been drinking — like breaking your leg on a slippery cobblestone after a night of wine tasting in Tuscany. If you’re planning a wine-centric trip or if relaxing with cocktails is a big part of your vacation plans, this is certainly something to look into.

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